Political Science Trailblazer & Activist Christine Sierra


>>CHRISTINE SIERRA BLAZED
MANY TRAILS IN HER LIFE. SHE WAS AMONG THE FIRST
MEXICAN AMERICAN WOMEN TO GET A DOCTORATE IN POLITICAL
SCIENCE AND HELPED BUILD THE FIELD OF LATINA, LATINO
POLITICAL STUDIES. SHE JOINED THE UNIVERSITY OF
NEW MEXICO IN 1986, AND HER PUBLICATIONS HAVE FOCUSED ON
ACTIVISM IN THE NEW MEXICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY AROUND
IMMIGRATION, HISPANIC POLITICS IN NEW MEXICO AND POLITICS OF
LATINA WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES. NOW EMERITA PROFESSOR AT UNM,
SHE SAT DOWN WITH CORRESPONDENT MEGAN KAMERICK
TO TALK ABOUT HER LIFE, HER SCHOLARSHIP AND THIS YEAR’S
ELECTIONS.>>CHRISTINE SIERRA, WELCOME
TO NEW MEXICO IN FOCUS. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.>>THANK YOU FOR INVITATION.>>YOU WERE ONE OF THE FIRST
LATINAS TO GET A PHD IN POLITICAL SCIENCE? WHAT DREW YOU TO THAT FIELD.>>I WOULD HAVE TO START WITH
MY UPBRINGING AND MY PARENTS. WE AS A FAMILY WERE ALWAYS
DISCUSSING CURRENT EVENTS AT THE KITCHEN TABLE AND MY
PARENTS WEREN’T REALLY INVOLVED IN CIVIC ORGANIZATION
OR ANYTHING. THEY WERE HABITUAL VOTERS,
RELIABLE VOTERS, AND TAUGHT US A LOT, I THINK, OF HOW TO
THINK ABOUT VALUES AND ASPIRATIONS AND SO ON. SO, IT JUST HAPPENED THAT I
GREW UP BEING TUNED INTO CURRENT EVENTS AND GIVEN THE
AGE I AM, I SAW, AS A YOUNG KID, ON TV, FIGHTS OVER CIVIL
RIGHTS AND MY DAD LOOKING AT THE NATIONAL GUARD
PROHIBITING — TRYING INTEGRATE THE SCHOOLS IN THE
SOUTH AND TEACHING ME ALL THIS STUFF. BUT YOU KNOW, MEGAN, SO
POLITICS WAS ALWAYS KIND OF A HOBBY, I WOULD SAY, OR A SIDE
INTEREST, BECAUSE, ACTUALLY, WHEN I WENT TO COLLEGE AND I
STARTED AT UTEP, I WENT THERE A YEAR, I WAS A MATH MAJOR AND
A CHEMISTRY MINOR AND WHEN I TRANSFERRED TO THE UNIVERSITY
OF TEXAS IN AUSTIN, I MAINTAINED THAT BUT THEN ALL
THESE SOCIAL MOVEMENTS WERE GOING ON AROUND ME AND I
WANTED TO STUDY HUMAN AND SOCIAL AND POLITICAL BEHAVIOR,
MORE THAN EQUATIONS AND BEING IN A CHEMISTRY LAB, SO, I JUST
SWITCHED MAJORS, WENT INTO WHAT UT AUSTIN CALLS
GOVERNMENT, WHICH WAS POLITICAL SCIENCE AND THEN I
JUST KEPT GOING. MAYBE IT IS BECAUSE I WASN’T
REALLY SURE WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO.>>YOU GOT YOUR DOCTORATE AT
STANFORD UNIVERSITY IN 1983, YOU MUST HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE
ONLY WOMEN OF COLOR THERE.>>WELL, YEAH. I WAS. OH, YEAH. WELL, I WAS ONE OF NINE, THEN
EVENTUALLY 10, INCOMING STUDENTS AND I ASSURE YOU, I
WAS THE ONLY, I BELIEVE, PERSON OF COLOR IN THAT
ENTERING CLASS OF GRADUATE STUDENTS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE. THERE WERE A FEW OTHER MEXICAN
AMERICANS, JUST A HANDFUL, BUT THEY WERE ALL GUYS AND SO I
WAS THE FIRST CHICANA OR MEXICAN AMERICAN WOMAN, AND I
PERSEVERED. I FOUND, YOU KNOW, I COULD DO
THE WORK. WHAT WAS HARD, THOUGH, WAS
WHAT I WOULD SAY INSTITUTIONAL IN A WAY BOTH ENCOURAGEMENT
BUT ALSO RESISTANCE. THERE WERE A LOT OF THINGS AT
THAT POINT IN TIME, NOT ONLY AT STANFORD BUT OTHER PLACES,
THAT DIDN’T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT MY EXPERIENCE WAS, WHAT
WE WANTED TO STUDY IN AMERICAN POLITICS DIVERTING FROM THE
OLD TRADITIONAL CONVENTIONAL APPROACHES AND STUFF, AND
REALLY STUDYING — WHAT I WANTED TO DO IS WRITE A
DISSERTATION ON MY OWN COMMUNITY, MY OWN POPULATION,
WHICH I ENDED UP DOING, BUT TO GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE, ONE OF
THE MOST FRIENDLY PROFESSORS AT STANFORD AT THE TIME, I
WENT TO SEE HIM AND HE SAYS, SO CHRISTINE, YOU WANT TO
STUDY MEXICO? I SAID, WELL, NOT REALLY. I DON’T MIND STUDYING MEXICO
AND ACTUALLY THAT WAS A SECOND FIELD, I SAID, BUT I WANT TO
STUDY MEXICAN AMERICANS AND SO THAT WAS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW FAR
WE HAD TO GO. AND I DID THE FIRST
DISSERTATION ON THE MEXICAN AMERICAN POPULATION IN THE
UNITED STATES IN THAT DEPARTMENT, BUT ULTIMATELY I
BECAME THE THIRD MEXICAN AMERICAN WOMAN IN THE COUNTRY
TO GAIN A PH.D. IN POLITICAL SCIENCE.>>YOU HAVE WRITTEN
EXTENSIVELY NOW ABOUT PEOPLE OF COLOR IN POLITICAL OFFICE
AND LEADERSHIP AND YOU HELPED BUILD THE FIELD THAT WE NOW
THINK OF AS LATINO, LATINA POLITICS, WHICH APPARENTLY
YOUR PROFESSOR DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT. AND YOU HAVE ALSO STUDIED
WOMEN IN POLITICS. IT IS FAR MORE COMMON NOW TO
HAVE SCHOLARSHIP AND STUDIES ON LATINOS AND POLITICS, IS
THAT A BAD THING.>>NO, I THINK IT IS GREAT AND
PERSONALLY, I GET A WHOLE LOT OF SATISFACTION AND ENERGY
FROM SEEING SOME OF THE THINGS THAT I HELPED TO PUT INTO
PLACE TO BUILD AVENUES FOR MORE REPRESENTATION WITHIN
ACADEMIA, WITHIN UNIVERSITY CLASSROOMS OR RECRUITING
STUDENTS TO GRADUATE SCHOOL, WHO LOOKED LIKE ME OR MAYBE
SHARED COMMON BACKGROUNDS LIKE ME. NO, IT IS A WONDERFUL THING
AND I WILL SAY THIS, THAT ONE TIME, I REMEMBER IT WAS
ELECTION NIGHT 2000 AND I WAS ASKED TO GIVE THE COLOR
COMMENTARY, IF YOU WILL, FOR ELECTION NIGHT AND ON ONE OF
THE OTHER TV CHANNELS, AND SO I SPOKE ABOUT HISPANICS
GAINING MORE REPRESENTATION. I DEFINITELY SPOKE ABOUT WOMEN
IN POLITICS AT THE TIME AND SO AFTER THAT PUBLIC APPEARANCE
ON TELEVISION, THERE WAS SOME GRAFFITI WRITTEN ON A BUILDING
AT UNM, THE BUILDING THAT WE OCCUPIED AS A DEPARTMENT,
DENOUNCING ME FOR ACTUALLY RACIST COMMENTS AND I THOUGHT,
HOW WAS I RACIST? ALL I TALKED ABOUT WERE
HISPANICS AND WOMEN AND WHAT I THINK, AFTER THINKING ABOUT
IT, MEGAN, IS THAT PEOPLE WERE SIMPLY NOT USED TO HEARING
DISCUSSION ABOUT HISPANICS AND U.S. POLITICS. MAYBE IN NEW MEXICO BUT NOT
U.S. POLITICS. WOMEN AND SO ON, AND IT WAS
SOMEHOW OFFENSIVE TO THEM, THAT I DIDN’T TALK JUST ABOUT
AMERICAN POLITICS.>>SO, THIS HAS SHIFTED. IT WAS SHOCKING IT WAS 2000. WHY DO YOU THINK IT HAS
SHIFTED?>>PARTIALLY DEMOGRAPHIC
CHANGE, STUDENT DEMAND. IT IS A DIFFERENT WORLD. I THINK THAT THE DEMOGRAPHIC
CHANGE AND THE RISE OF THE LATINO POPULATION AND OTHER
POPULATIONS OF COLOR HAS REALLY TAKEN HOLD AND SOME OF
THE OUTCOMES ARE MORE ELECTED OFFICIALS GETTING — MORE
PEOPLE OF COLOR GETTING INTO ELECTED OFFICE, MORE STUDENTS
GETTING INTO THE CLASSROOMS AND SO ON. STILL, IT IS STILL IMPORTANT
TO RECOGNIZE THERE IS UNDER REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE OF
COLOR, WHETHER IT IS IN ACADEMIA, FACULTY OR STUDENTS
OR IN PUBLIC OFFICE, BUT I THINK THAT AMERICA IS CHANGING
AND THAT CHANGE IS PRESSURING INSTITUTIONS TO CHANGE ALONG
WITH THAT DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE. SO, THE MORE COMPLEX, THE MORE
DIVERSE OUR POPULATION BECOMES, THEN THOSE FORCES
WILL START TO TAKE SHAPE WITHIN THINGS LIKE ACADEMIA
AND, HENCE, THERE IS SUCH A DEMAND NOW FOR TEACHING LATINO
POLITICS AND LATINA POLITICS OR ASIAN AMERICANS, AND SO,
THAT IS REALLY VERY SATISFYING TO ME THAT WE NOW HAVE MORE
FACULTY, AND ARE PRODUCING MORE FACULTY WHO CAN HAVE
EXPERTISE IN THOSE AREAS.>>THERE SEEMS TO BE A
WATERSHED MOMENT FOR WOMEN OF COLOR RUNNING FOR OFFICE AND
SOME SAID IT IS RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP. IS THAT THE WHOLE STORY?>>THAT IS NOT THE WHOLE
STORY. IT IS A LONG STORY IN THE
MAKING. CERTAINLY THE RESPONSE TO THIS
CLIMATE, THIS POLITICAL CLIMATE, CERTAINLY THE
RESPONSE OF MANY WOMEN AND WHO — AND WHEN WOMEN DO GET INTO
ELECTED OFFICE, BY FAR, THEY ARE AFFILIATED AS DEMOCRATS. NOT NECESSARILY THAT THE
DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAS BEEN A GREAT RECRUITER OF WOMEN BUT
RATHER THAT WOMEN, ONCE THEY SEEK POLITICAL OFFICE, THEY
USUALLY RUN AS DEMOCRATS. BUT, WE HAVE ALSO SEEN SOME
EXPANSION OF THE RANKS SLOWLY WITH REPUBLICAN WOMEN, BUT,
NO, THAT IS NOT THE WHOLE STORY. SO I HAVE COAUTHORED A BOOK ON
PEOPLE OF COLOR GETTING INTO ELECTED OFFICE. AND, WHAT WE FOUND WAS IT WAS
A LONG TIME COMING. WE CALL OUR BOOK, CONTESTED
TRANSFORMATION, MEANING THAT THE COUNTRY IS TRANSFORMING AS
I MENTIONED AS A DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE, POPULATION DIVERSITY,
IT HAS LED TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE OF COLOR GETTING INTO ELECTED
OFFICE BUT OUR PROFILE IS SHOWING THEM AT THE LOCAL
LEVEL, VERY MUCH CONCENTRATED IN CITY COUNCILS AND COUNTY
COMMISSIONS AND SCHOOL BOARDS, THEN INCREMENTALLY AND SLOWLY
THEY GO INTO STATE LEGISLATURES AND THEN THEY MAY
GET INTO CONGRESS AND NOW, MAYBE, WE WILL SEE SOME FUTURE
AS POTENTIAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. BUT IT IS A LONG TIME COMING. WOMEN OF COLOR HAVE HIGH RATES
OF EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT. THEY ACTUALLY HAVE MORE
EDUCATION THAN MEN OF COLOR AND WHITE WOMEN, IN GENERAL.>>SOME SCHOLARS HAVE ARGUED
THERE IS ACTUALLY A LATINA ADVANTAGE IN POLITICS. THEY TEND TO PERFORM BETTER IN
THE POLLS THAN MALE CANDIDATES BUT POLITICAL PARTIES AREN’T
ALWAYS LEVERAGING THE ADVANTAGE SO IS THERE SEXISM
THAT STILL NEEDS TO BE OVERCOME?>>I DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT
EXACTLY IT IS BUT THAT IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. THAT THERE IS A LATINA
ADVANTAGE. AND, I THINK I WOULD PUT IT
THIS WAY, THAT NOT ONLY LATINAS BUT WE FOUND THAT
WOMEN OF COLOR CAN SPEAK TO DIFFERENT AUDIENCES
SIMULTANEOUSLY. YOU KNOW, WE CALL IT
INTERSECTIONALITY. WHAT THAT MEANS IS THAT THESE
WOMEN OF COLOR COME TO THE FOREFRONT AND CAN SPEAK, IF
YOU WILL, LANGUAGE — THE LANGUAGE OF DIFFERENT
CONSTITUENCIES. THEY CAN TALK TO OTHER WOMEN,
CAN TALK TO MINORITY POPULATIONS, CAN TALK TO
WORKING CLASS PEOPLE, MIDDLE CLASS PEOPLE, HIGHLY EDUCATED
PEOPLE, AND SO, THEY HAVE A LOT OF WAYS TO RELATE TO
PEOPLE. IN ADDITION, THEY HAVE A LOT
OF NETWORKS, BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT WOMEN COME FROM HAVING
BEEN INVOLVED WITH PTA’S OR CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS OR
RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS SO THEY BRING A LOT OF RESOURCES. THEY HAVE BECOME ATTRACTIVE
CANDIDATES AND I THINK ALSO BECAUSE WOMEN STILL ARE SORT
OF NOVEL. I MEAN, OUR RANKS ARE STILL
UNDER-REPRESENTED AT ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT, SO, IF
YOU’RE LOOKING AT AMERICAN VOTERS WHO ARE KIND OF SICK
AND TIRED OF THE SAME OLE SAME OLE OR WANT A REAL CHANGE
OFTEN TIMES, I THINK THAT MAYBE GENDER MATTERS. AND I CAN’T ANSWER THE PARTY
QUESTION. I KNOW THAT PARTIES WILL SAY
THEY ARE TRYING TO RECRUIT WOMEN, BUT THE WOMEN ELECTED
OFFICIALS WE TALKED TO DID NOT CREDIT THE PARTIES TO ANY
GREAT EXTENT. THEY CREDITED THEIR FAMILY
MEMBERS AND THEIR NEIGHBORS AND THEIR FRIENDS SAYING, WHY
DON’T YOU RUN FOR OFFICE?>>AND OF COURSE THEY SAID,
OH, I CAN’T DO THAT.>>THEY SAY, OH, I DON’T KNOW. AND THEN THEY THOUGHT, WHY
NOT?>>HOW ARE LATINO AND LATINA
ORGANIZATIONS AND POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS SIMILAR TO THE
EARLIER DAYS OF LATINO AND CHICANO ACTIVITIES AND
ACTIVISM.>>YOU MEAN IN TERMS OF
CURRENT CAMPAIGNS?>>UH-HUH.>>ALL CAMPAIGNS HAVE BECOME
MORE PROFESSIONAL IN THAT NOW, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE SEEN
INTEREST WITH CANDIDATES HERE IN CD1 AND CD2, ESPECIALLY
RUNNING FOR CONGRESS, YOU NEED A POLSTER AND YOU NEED A FUND
RAISER, AND YOU NEED A TREASURER AND ALL THIS
EXPERTISE AROUND YOU AND A CAMPAIGN MANAGER. PROBABLY IN THE OLD DAYS THEY
RELIED MORE, AND I KNOW THAT SOME OF THOSE CANDIDATES DID,
RELY MORE ON FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS AND SO FORTH. BUT, SO IT HAS BECOME MORE OF
A PROFESSIONAL THING. THE OTHER THING IS, THE
OVERWHELMING INFLUENCE OF MONEY. SO THE HIGHER LEVEL YOU RUN,
BUT, EVEN HERE IN NEW MEXICO, EVEN IN STATE LEGISLATIVE
OFFICE RACES, WE CAN SEE THAT IT IS STARTING TO TAKE MONEY
TO GET YOUR NAME OUT WHETHER IT IS ON A MAILER OR ON
TELEVISION. SO, I DON’T KNOW, MEGAN, I
THINK THAT OVERALL CAMPAIGNS AND CANDIDATES HAVE HAD TO
KIND OF FALL IN LINE IN SEEKING THAT MEDIA ATTENTION,
SEEKING THAT OUTREACH, AND, SIMPLY NEEDING MORE RESOURCES
TO DO IT.>>ARE THERE CENTRAL THEMES OR
ISSUES GALVANIZING LATINA CANDIDATES AROUND IMMIGRATION
OR LIKE IMMIGRATION?>>I WOULD PUT IMMIGRATION IN
THE TOP, IN GENERAL, IN THE TOP THREE OR FOUR ISSUES. I WOULD SAY THAT BECAUSE OUR
CURRENT PRESIDENT IS MAKING IMMIGRATION THE LITMUS TEST
AND PLAYBOOK FOR MANY A REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE RUNNING
IN THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS AND I WANT TO ELABORATE ON THAT A
BIT BUT, SURE, THE POLITICS OF IMMIGRATION ARE QUITE
PROMINENT NOW. AND ACROSS AMERICA. I MEAN, WE SAW WHAT HAPPENED
WITH THE FAMILY SEPARATION POLICY THE CURRENT ABEYANCE OR
NOT KNOWING WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE DACA KIDS, THOSE
KIDS WHO ARE HERE BUT COULD GET LEGAL STATUS FOR A
TEMPORARY PERIOD OF TIME. THOSE KIND OF THINGS ARE STILL
TO BE DECIDED. AND, SURE, OVERALL, LATINO
PUBLIC OPINION SHOWS THAT LATINOS ARE COALESCING, FAIRLY
COHESIVE, AROUND PROTECTING WHAT THEY SEE ARE THEIR RIGHTS
OR THE LARGER COMMUNITY. AND IN THE PAST, THERE HAVE
BEEN DECADES IN THE PAST WHERE, FOR EXAMPLE, MEXICAN
AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS IN THE 40S AND 50’S WERE SHOWING SOME
OF THEM THAT THEY HAD ANTI-IMMIGRANT ATTITUDES, BUT
THAT HAS CHANGED PRETTY MUCH SINCE THE 60’S AND ’70’S
MOBILIZATIONS AND NOW IT REALLY IS A COMMUNITY FEELING
UNDER SIEGE.>>YOU THINK THAT IS TRUE EVEN
IN NEW MEXICO WHERE IMMIGRATION HASN’T BEEN AS
STRONG AN ISSUE.>>SURE, AS AN EXAMPLE, SURE. AND THIS IS NOT — AGAIN, IT
IS NOT A NEAT AND TIDY WAY OF SAYING THAT THERE IS THIS SIDE
AND THIS SIDE, BUT LET’S TAKE GOVERNOR MARTINEZ’ ATTEMPT TO
STOP GIVING STATE LICENSES — DRIVING LICENSES TO
UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS. THE NEW MEXICO STATE
LEGISLATURE, I.E. THE
DEMOCRATS IN THE LEGISLATURE, I.E. THE HISPANIC DEMOCRATS IN
THE LEGISLATURE WERE FRONT AND CENTER IN THAT BATTLE AND FOR
THE MOST PART COALESCED IN OPPOSITION TO GOVERNOR
MARTINEZ’ POLICY. IN THE END THEY MADE UP A
COMPROMISE BUT IT WAS WITH SOME SUPPORT FROM IMMIGRANT
RIGHTS GROUPS. NOW, AGAIN GOVERNOR MARTINEZ
HERSELF IS HISPANIC SO THAT COMPLICATES THE NARRATIVE I AM
GIVING BUT, SURE, EVEN IN NEW MEXICO, WE HAVE SEEN IMMIGRANT
ORGANIZATIONS AND ALLIES COME TO THE FOREFRONT TO TRY TO
SAY, UH-UH, NOT IN OUR STATE. THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE. THERE IS A DIFFERENT TONE HERE
AS OPPOSED TO TEXAS AND ARIZONA. THERE IS A DIFFERENT HISPANIC
LEADERSHIP CORE HERE AND THEY ARE VERY COMFORTABLE YIELDING
THE POWER THAT THEY CAN MUSTER. THEY ARE NOT MARGINALIZED,
HAVE NOT BEEN MARGINALIZED FOR A LONG TIME IN POLITICS SO
THAT GIVES THE EDGE TO, I THINK, HISPANIC SOLIDARITY ON
IMMIGRATION IN NEW MEXICO BUT, YEAH, YOU BET, EVEN IN NEW
MEXICO, IT HAS BECOME AN ISSUE AND IS AN ISSUE AND WILL BE AN
ISSUE, I AM SURE, IN CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 2,
WHERE TORREZ SMALL IS RUNNING AS A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR
STEVE PEARCE’S POSITION, SHE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT THE
BORDER, BORDER SECURITY AND IMMIGRANT RIGHTS.>>SHE IS RUNNING AGAINST A
VERY STRONG –>>YVETTE HERRELL, REPUBLICAN
CANDIDATE. SO FAR WHAT I HAVE SEEN, SHE
IS FOLLOWING THE NATIONAL REPUBLICAN PLAYBOOK OF MAKING
IMMIGRATION AN ISSUE IN THE SENSE OF US VERSUS THEM. IN THE SENSE OF A TRUMP CALL
TO ARMS THAT WE HAVE TO BE — HAVE TO HAVE THIS BORDER WALL,
OF COURSE, THE BORDER TOWNS DON’T WANT IT, INCLUDING MY
HOME TOWN OF EL PASO. WE SEE MUCH MORE AN INTEGRATED
ECONOMY, INTEGRATED FAMILIES AND INTEGRATED BORDER, EVEN
ENVIRONMENTALLY INTEGRATED THAT SUCH A WALL DOESN’T MAKE
SENSE, BUT, SURE, THAT WILL BE AN EXAMPLE. I DON’T KNOW THAT PEARCE AND
MICHELLE — STEVE PEARCE AND MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM WILL
RUN ON THAT BUT IT MAY CREEP UP.>>WE SAW MASSIVE MARCHES IN
2006 AROUND IMMIGRATION AND THE DREAMER MOVEMENT WAS QUITE
VOCAL. HOW ARE THOSE MOVEMENTS
AFFECTING OR HOW ARE GRASS ROOTS MOVEMENTS INFLUENCING
POLICY TODAY?>>WELL, I THINK THAT RIGHT
NOW IN MY OPINION, UNFORTUNATELY, THAT SPIRIT AND
THAT PERSISTENCE IS ON HOLD OR IS REALLY STRUGGLING AGAINST
AN ADMINISTRATIVE STATE, AN APPARATUS THAT IS VERY MUCH
AGAINST THEM.>>YOU HAVE SEEN IT PULL BACK?>>THE DREAMERS, I DON’T KNOW
THAT THEY EVER PULLED BACK. THEY SHOW UP AT RALLIES AND
THEY ARE JUST MANY — THEIR ENERGY AND THEIR UNDOCUMENTED
AND UNAFRAID STATUS IS, TO ME, AN INSPIRATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE
WHO HAVE REALLY LEARNED AMERICAN POLITICS, WHO HAVE
REALLY LEARNED AMERICAN VALUES OF PARTICIPATION. I MEAN THAT IS THE IRONY. THE IRONY IS THAT THEY REALLY
ARE AMERICANS IN ACTION BUT I WOULD SAY THIS, THAT OVER THE
COURSE OF MY RESEARCH CAREER, WHEN I FIRST STARTED STUDYING
LATINOS AND IMMIGRATION POLITICS, I WAS IN DC AT
BROOKINGS INSTITUTION AND I COULD OBSERVE CONGRESS AND THE
INTERACTIONS BETWEEN CONGRESS AND THE REAGAN WHITE HOUSE AND
SO ON. AT THAT POINT IN TIME, THERE
WERE MAJOR NATIONAL LATINO ORGANIZATIONS THAT DEMANDED A
SEAT AT THE TABLE. THE CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC
CAUCUS WAS QUITE INFLUENTIAL AND THEY WEIGHED IN TO WHAT
EVENTUALLY BECAME IMMIGRATION REFORM AND CONTROL ACT OR IRCA
IN 1986. FAMOUSLY OFFERING LEGAL STATUS
TO A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE. SINCE THAT TIME, IT HAS KIND
OF EBBED AND FLOWED, BUT THE RESURGENCE THAT WE SPOKE
ABOUT, ABOUT THE IMMIGRANT RIGHTS MARCHES, THE IMMIGRANTS
THEMSELVES, UNDOCUMENTED THEMSELVES, REVITALIZED THOSE
CLAIMS FOR INCLUSION. THE INDICATION THAT THEY
WANTED A PATH TO LEGAL ENTRY AND THE THING THAT KEEPS YOU
ILLEGAL IS THE LACK OF OPPORTUNITY TO ENTER LEGALLY
WITH A 20 TO 30 YEAR WAIT IN LINE FOR GETTING LEGAL ENTRY.>>WHAT IMPACT COULD
DEMOGRAPHICS HAVE ON THESE ISSUES OVER THE NEXT FEW
DECADES AS THE PERCENTAGE OF THE ELECTORATE WHO ARE PEOPLE
OF COLOR INCREASES?>>WE ARE GOING TO SEE WHAT WE
HAVE SEEN NOW CONTINUING AND THAT IS WE ARE GOING TO SEE
ELECTED OFFICIALS PRODUCED FROM POPULATIONS THAT HAVE
NEVER PRODUCED ELECTED OFFICIAL AND THAT INCLUDES,
YOU KNOW, SOUTH ASIANS, PEOPLE FROM INDIA, OR OF MIXED RACE,
PAMELA HARRIS, NEW U.S. SENATOR IN CALIFORNIA WHO
COMES FROM BLACK AND SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE. WE HAVE OUR FIRST LATINA IN
THE SENATE FROM NEVADA AND A FIRST WOMAN OF THAI ORIGIN AND
CHINESE HERITAGE IN THE U.S. SENATE FROM ILLINOIS. IT IS NOT JUST SAYING THAT,
OH, THIS IS JUST GREAT, LET’S HOLD HANDS AND CELEBRATE THIS
DIVERSITY. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT HOW
PEOPLE, EXPERIENCES, FAMILY UP BRINGING, REAL CONCERNS AND
STRUGGLES IN FORMING THEIR POLICY MAKING AND TO WHAT
EXTENT CAN THEY, THEN, SEE THEIR CONSTITUENTS IN ALL OF
THEIR COMPLEXITY AND WITH A WIDE RANGE OF EXPERIENCES. HOW CAN THEY CAN BE RESPONSIVE
TO THOSE CONSTITUENTS.>>YOU ARE NOW A PROFESSOR
EMERITA AT UNM. DOESN’T SOUND LIKE YOU’RE
SLOWING DOWN. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR
LEGACY? WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?>>WELL, THERE ARE, YOU KNOW,
SEVERAL THINGS. I’LL JUST SAY QUICKLY, I AM
VERY PROUD OF MY — VERY PROUD OF MY TEACHING AND A WHOLE LOT
OF STUDENTS THAT I HOPE I TOUCHED THEIR LIVES IN A
POSITIVE AND SUPPORTIVE WAY. I AM VERY PROUD OF THE
STUDENTS THAT I KNOW ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. I’LL QUICKLY CLAIM A LITTLE
BIT OF SUCCESS WITH OUR CURRENT SECRETARY OF STATE,
WHO IS –>>ONE OF YOUR STUDENTS.>>A FORMER STUDENT. I HAVE TWO PROFESSORS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS TEACHING IN LATINO POLITICS AT
BELOIT COLLEGE OF WISCONSIN, AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH
DAKOTA AND SHE HAS JUST GOTTEN HERSELF ELECTED OR WILL HAVE
HERSELF PROBABLY ELECTED TO THE CITY COUNCIL IN THIS
LITTLE TOWN IN SOUTH DAKOTA. I KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS HEADING
UP THE NEW MEXICO IMMIGRANTS LAW CENTER. I KNOW JUDGES SITTING ON THE
BENCH. A FORMER STUDENT IS A FEDERAL
JUDGE DOWN SOUTH. SO, THOSE THINGS MAKE ME VERY
PROUD BUT I AM ALSO VERY PROUD OF BUILDING A FIELD THAT WE
STARTED FROM NOWHERE, FROM SCRATCH. WE CALLED IT CHICANO POLITICS
OR CHICANO STUDIES. JUST RECENTLY, UNM PASSED WITH
THE FACULTY AND REGENTS APPROVAL, A GRADUATE PROGRAM
IN CHICANO AND CHICANA STUDIES. IN POLITICAL SCIENCE
WE HAVE ENTERED THE RANKS OF LEADERSHIP OF THE ASSOCIATION. WE HAVE MADE INSTITUTIONAL
CHANGE AT THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION AND THEIR
PROGRAMMING. WE ARE MAKING CHANGES IN LOTS
OF DIFFERENT FIELDS. MEGAN I WISH THAT WE ALSO
WOULD FIND IT EASIER TO DO THOSE THINGS BUT STILL THERE
IS CONTESTED TRANSFORMATION. IT IS INCREMENTAL CHANGE. IT IS WONDERFUL CHANGE, CHANGE
THAT I AM VERY PROUD OF, BUT IT IS STILL A FIGHT.>>CHRISTINE, THANK YOU SO
MUCH FOR COMING AND SPEAKING WITH US.>>THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THE
INVITATION AND I AM HONORED.




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